‘Proof’ opens Dec. 2 in Price Theater Black Box
Nov. 20, 2009

Senior theatre arts student Sam Gambino knows about front porches.

Growing up in the small south Georgia town of Blackshear, she saw how neighbors would congregate on front porches to visit, forming a strong sense of community. When she was given the opportunity to design the set for the College’s production of “Proof,” she knew what was needed.

“I started off by reading the script,” she said. “But then I went around LaGrange and took photos of older houses so I could get a true sense of the architecture. The set is very intimate, and I want the audience to feel like they’ve been plopped into the front yard of this home.”

Most of the action in the play takes place on the front porch of a house belonging to Robert, a recently deceased mathematician, and his daughter, Catherine, who gave up her own study of mathematics to tend to her genius father. After his death, Catherine claims to be the author of a mathematical proof found in the attic among his unpublished, mostly incoherent notebooks by Hal, one of his former students. Her older sister, who returns home for the funeral, doubts Catherine’s claim and her sanity. Hal, who has professional ambitions of his own, may not be trustworthy; his relationship with Catherine complicates the issue.

“Proof” by David Auburn opens Dec. 2 in the Price Theater Black Box.

Tracy Riggs, Adjunct Professor of Theatre and the play’s director, said the Black Box is the perfect space for this show.

“It is great place to do edgier pieces, because it is so intimate,” she said.

The small cast includes Olivia Harlow as Catherine, Jenny Crawford as Claire, Joseph Thomas as Hal and Dr. John Williams, Professor of English, as Robert.

Harlow, a freshman from Alpharetta, said she feels a mixture of terror and honor at the opportunity to portray the play’s lead character.

“It’s a challenge, and it can be terrifying” she said. “Catherine influences almost everything in the show. It’s also a challenge to balance my college workload, get to know the campus and my classmates, while trying to learn all my lines.”

In fact, her character appears on all but two pages of the script.

Harlow said she’s been acting since she was in the fourth grade.

“I was Toy No. 2 in ‘Peter Pan,’” she said with a laugh. “That’s the when the acting bug bit, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Crawford, a senior transfer student from Canton, Ohio, plays Claire, the older sister.

“She is very much the authoritative one,” Crawford said. “But she is very wrapped up in her own life. She tried to be there for her sister, but it’s very hard for her.”

Crawford said her character’s extremes make her a challenge.

“It’s difficult because she goes from one extreme to another, and I have to make it look like it flows that way,” she said.

Thomas, a sophomore from Newnan, recently appeared in the College’s production of “Brigadoon.” He began rehearsals for “Proof” almost as soon as “Brigadoon” closed.

“It’s pretty intense,” he said. “The two shows are very different. It’s been a big adjustment, but Hal is a great part and I’m grateful for the chance to be in this show.”

Williams, an award-winning playwright, is full of praise for the production.

“I play a man who was once a brilliant mathematician whose mind has fallen prey to some unnamed mental illness,” he said. “The play deals with the relationship between him and his daughter, who fears she may have a similar fate.  It’s a very touching story about a relationship that is unconventional and conflicted but tender. It is very cleverly and compassionately structured.”

 “Proof” runs Dec. 2-6 in the Price Theater Black Box. Show times are 7:30 p.m., with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Dec. 5 and Dec. 6. For more information, call the box office at (706) 880-8080.

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